Puh-kah anyone?

Ben and Abi’s new favorite snack is pickles — called “puh-kahs” by Ben, when he opens the fridge door and demands one.

This is unfortunate, because when a pickle is left dried up on the floor, it looks disturbingly like a turd.

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Lighten things up around here

Birthday Presents

This weekend we celebrated Abigail’s first birthday. Nic’s family came over and we had cake, made by Nic, and slightly burnt burgers made by yours truly. Abi opened a present all the way from Malaysia, and Benjamin spent most of the time “helping” Abigail play with her gifts.

There’s lots more pictures and video on Vimeo and Flickr, via the sidebar.

The Emerging Church

I usually try and wait until my thoughts on a subject have fully percolated before I blog on them. I’ve been told that I’m rather direct in the communication of my thoughts and opinions, so if I come across loudly, I try to make sure I’ve at least thought through what I’m shouting.

However, this post contains some thoughts that aren’t fully percolated, and as a result, may not be totally articulate or well-formed. Nonetheless, I feel a sense of urgency in communicating something on the subject.

There is a movement of young Christians happening right now. If you read my blog, and only my blog, you’ll have caught pieces of it. But there’s lots of other people out there who are much better equipped to lead and communicate this movement. If you think I’m alone in my desire to move away from a useless unChristianity, toward something that better resembles the life of Christ — something that is acted out in tangible ways — you should probably find some other (better) blogs to read on the subject.

The reality is that for my generation, Christianity is not an issue of denomination or tradition or strict rules. Its about whether or not Christ’s message of grace and redemption makes a difference. Ours is a world where absolutes are rare, and where social responsibility is almost a religion of its own. If there are two-dozen faith-based systems, all apparently offering a path to eternal bliss, then what sets us apart? And if your local homeless shelter is run by agnostics, and not Christians, then what are we demonstrating about love?

So if there’s an emphasis of late on new methods, new styles of worship, new activities or venues, a renewed interest in community and relationship, on meeting people where they’re at, instead of demanding that they change first so that we’re comfortable around them, I don’t consider that a bad thing. In my opinion, its about time.

However, there’s a danger that comes along with that. In an effort to make Christianity more “relevant” — or more palatable, there’s also a significant movement to strip our faith of anything that might be offense to someone who doesn’t believe what we do. At the forefront of that movement in North American culture is something called the Emergent Village.

Emergent VillageThe Emergent Village is a loose organization of young professing-Christian leaders having “conversations” about what they really believe. Asking questions like “do we really believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven?” or “Is hell really real?”
Now, I love asking questions, and debating the mysteries of our faith. And the Bible leaves some things up for debate — I think God left some questions unanswered so we could pursue Him intellectually. But some questions He’s already answered very clearly for us. His Truth is there to accept, or deny. And if we accept Christ, then we have to accept what He says was true.

Cause here’s the thing: if we make Jesus a liar, then what we offer is a lie. The point of Christians demonstrating grace in their communities — helping the homeless, reaching out to those in need — is to point toward God’s Grace in sending His son as the ultimate sacrifice for us. If we decide to paraphrase Christ, or the absolutes that He delivered through His words, then our actions are hollow. They cease to be communicating a love greater than ours, and simply become ways for us to feel better about ourselves.

If that’s the extent of our pursuits, that’s fine. But if there really is hope beyond the human condition, then the Truth that leads to it has to have been established by someone beyond the human condition. Us humans are way too good at rationalizing truth into any shape that pleases us.

As Marc Driscoll says (much more eloquently than I) the methods go in the open hand, the message in the closed hand. Paul the Apostle said, “I become all things to all people that I might win some.”
The point is, the church needs to change. The members of our churches need to change. We need to be real and relevant and impactful in our communities. We need to demonstrate Grace and Truth in ways that are meaningful to those around us. Our methods must be timely.
But the message? It hasn’t changed, and it cannot change. Our message is timeless. And those who attempt to twist it into something more comfortable, or leave out the parts that make us conscious of our need for Jesus, are deceivers and false prophets.

Religion means finding something better than yourself to believe in. Not following blindly, but not changing things to escape changing yourself.

PS: Here’s a completely secular video that takes a look at the Emergent Movement. Please note the link, above, to Driscoll’s talk on the same subject to understand the differences within this movement — some are actually good. One is clearly from the Deceiver.

unChristian

unChristian BookIn our small group we’re studying a book called unChristian. Its one that rings true with me, and challenges me on many levels. On the surface, its about un-Christ-like behavior in the Christian community — especially in North America. It was written by a researcher who has collected hard data that clearly illustrates how miserably we are failing to communicate the love and message of Christ.

On a deeper level, though, the book is about discipleship. About how even in the people we do manage to “win” despite our flawed approach, we are then failing to disciple them. That we teach Christianity as a decision, and miss the relationships — with our savior, with each other, and with those we are called to love. And the result is a superficial, useless unChristianity — one that tarnishes the name of Christ and His followers.

Here’s an excerpt (with emphasis by yours truly) but if you have any desire to share what you believe, you should get and read the whole book. It will challenge you no matter where you’re at…

What difference does transformation make? It changes our ideas of spiritual effectiveness. We should measure success not merely by the size of our church or the number of baptisms, but also by the depth and quality of spiritual growth in people’s lives.

When Christians live out what the Bible teaches, we have an influence on our culture… We are actively representing Christ to a needy world. As we go about our daily lives, God’s words and actions flow out of us.

Christianity must reverse its current image and become dynamic, genuine and real. If we can prevent the message from being watered down by causal Christians, outsiders will begin to experience believers who are being transformed by their faith and who are working in humble and respectful ways to transform the culture.

How does this relate to outsiders? Shifting the get-saved perception happens when we learn that relationships are the key — not just in leading people to Christ but also in helping them be transformed.

1 year

Since there seems to be some confusion, I went back to video I made and double-checked. Poor kid — her dad doesn’t even know when her birthday is! Well, it’s today. On March 25 last year, our Abigail was born. Now she’s a walking, close-to-talking little princess, determined to keep up with her big brother.

Abi's "Hunh?" face “I can’t believe you don’t know when I was born, dad!”

There’s a video of her in the sidebar, pretending to wash dishes. Happy birthday, sweetheart!

Technological Dissonance

LaserDisc LogoIn the late 1970s an incredible new video technology debuted. Originally called Discovision, it delivered high resolution movies on an optical platter roughly the size of an LP. Although it was an analog medium, movies frequently included a digital audio track (typically 3 channel DTS) along-side the stereo analog track.

LaserDisc was significantly more expensive — and delicate — than VHS and BetaMax, with which it competed, but until the DVD format came out commercially in 1996 (in Japan, ’97 in the US and Canada) it was unrivaled for video quality. Although it mostly disappeared by the 90s, it still had a niche with serious videophiles — and karaokee bars.

Laserdisc

Pictured here is a 2009 model Blu-ray player, the great-grandchild of the LaserDisc, sitting atop a late-model LaserDisc player. They’re connected by a late 90s DTS stereo receiver and a mid 2000s LCD HDTV, controlled by a Harmony Universal Remote control. 3 decades of cutting edge home theater technology working together beautifully.

A geeky tear might have welled up in my eye when it all started talking to each other.

Due East

Turns out the easiest way to get your tax refund from your American bank to your Canadian one is just to drive to the States, get a money order made out to yourself, then drive back…

So we’re off to Buffalo tomorrow to do just that. And since we’re there we figure we might as well hit a Target (accent on the e) and Best Buy. Most of our tax refund is going to good, worthwhile endeavors, as discussed earlier. But we did so well this year, that we’re going to get a toy or two with a little bit of it ;o)

Samsung BDP-2550

I’m getting us a Samsung BDP-2550. Blu-ray disc, and NetFlix streaming playback, here I come! Alas, this is the end of my relationship with HD-DVD as well. I’ll keep a couple as collectors items, but I guess I’ll dump the rest.
Which reminds me, I now have an XBox 360 Pro for sale if anyone’s interested. Drop me a line!